SOUTHWEST MIAMI-DADE, FLA. (WSVN) - A statue of Jesus Christ was found beheaded and knocked off its pedestal outside of a Southwest Miami-Dade church, and the Archdiocese of Miami believes the incident was not an accident.

The statue was found decapitated and moved from its pedestal outside Good Shepherd Catholic Church, Wednesday morning.

“The principal problem right now is pandemia,” Raul Bocanegra said. “We’re supposed to stay together, and we pray together for a solution.”

Father Edvaldo DaSilva has been the parochial-vicar at the church for three years. He said the vandalism he’s seen in recent weeks has started hitting churches.

When asked if the statue toppled over on its own, DaSilva said, “Obviously not, that’s for sure. They had some powerful hands to remove it. Seeing what is happening in our country, I presume so, but we don’t have 100% assurance.”

DaSilva pointed to an incident that occurred at a church in Ocala on Saturday.

Steven Anthony Shields, 24, was arrested and faces several charges, including attempted murder, after Marion County Sheriff’s officials said he slammed his vehicle into the church before setting it on fire.

An email regarding the vandalized statue went out to the church’s congregation, Wednesday morning.

“The problem is many people have many other problems: addictions, emotional problems,” Bocanegra said. “We’re supposed to be praying for these people. Anyway, it’s the wrong way, wrong decision.”

The Archdiocese of Miami released a statement that reads, “The Archdiocese of Miami expects the police to investigate this desecration of the Jesus Christ statue as a hate crime. This crime reflects the increasing attacks on the Catholic church across the country.”

Miami-Dade Police are investigating, and the parish hopes surveillance cameras lead to whoever is responsible.

Although the statue may be damaged, the act will only strengthen the faith of the church’s congregation.

“As a Christian community, we pray for those that have done that that the Lord will forgive them and grant them the gift of conversion,” DaSilva said.

On Thursday morning, where the statue previously stood was a sign that read “God wins over evil” and a vase with flowers.

If you have any information on this vandalism, call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-471-TIPS. Remember, you can always remain anonymous, and you may be eligible for a $1,000 reward.

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